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FedEx looks at blockchain to “transform logistics industry”


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The Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA) gets closer to a new set of industry standards for blockchain logistics.

FedEx is a founding member of the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA), moving forward on blockchain solutions in transport. Currently its role in the alliance is to work on a new set of blockchain industry standards.

The latest step takes the form of a pilot program to store data for use in dispute resolution, says vice president of strategic planning and analysis Dale Chrystie. More specifically, FedEx is working on assessing exactly what kind of data needs to be stored in a permament ledger to ease disputes between customers sending and receiving goods through FedEx.

Easing of customer disputes might be one of the milder benefits of blockchain technology in logistics; FedEx also wants to use a blockchain storage system for its records.

"We have millions of records a day in our system, and we think of blockchain as a secure chain of custody that could transform the logistics industry. We believe it holds a lot of promise in that space and would streamline all that data exchange in a very secure way," Chrystie said.

The sentiment is a close echo of what the world's largest shipping company, Maersk, previously said of blockchain technology in logistics. Maersk has partnered with IBM to achieve goals extremely similar to what Chrystie outlines – a dependable digital record of the chain of custody.

While the transport and logistics industry is increasingly looking towards blockchain as the future, it remains to be seen whether any of these silutions will involve cryptocurrency specifically, or if logistics companies aim to achieve the goal without a tokenisation model, and will instead simply be purchasing it as a business solution.

Names like VeChain and Waltonchain are some of the coins laying claim to the logistics solutions niche, approaching it from slightly different angles.

Both are using blockchain-enabled RFID trackers to track goods on their trip and form an unbroken chain of custody, but:

  • VeChain might be approaching it from the perspective of a business solution with the goals of anti-counterfeiting and improved supply chain management.
  • Waltonchain might be offering it as an Internet of Things (IoT) solution, with the eventual goal of similar RFID tracking of almost anything as needed, and the creation of a network beyond "the supply chain".

For a sense of what FedEx sees in the blockchain, and the benefits of being able to track, digitise and manage data across the entire chain of custody, you might consider this video from the IBM/Maersk partnership. It might be very similar to FedEx's vision of the near future.

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